Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late equaliser earned Manchester United a point they fully deserved after a typically thunderous encounter with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Liverpool led through James Milner’s 27th-minute penalty kick, awarded after Paul Pogba inexplicably handled from a corner kick as he went up to challenge Dejan Lovren.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was Liverpool’s hero with superb first-half saves from Ibrahimovic’s free-kick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as Jurgen Klopp’s side put up stern resistance and threatened on the break.
It looked like the visitors were going to hold on and move back to second in the Premier League, but United finally forced the goal they merited.
This was when Antonio Valencia reacted first when substitute Marouane Fellaini’s header came back off the post, crossing for Ibrahimovic to head home off the bar.
Liverpool are now in third place, seven points adrift of top-flight leaders Chelsea.
On their part, United — whose nine-match winning run in all competitions came to an end — are now 12 points off the top.
Reds’ manager Klopp had no hesitation in restoring Mignolet in goal, despite the midweek heroics of Loris Karius in defeat in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg at Southampton.
Klopp has decided, for now at least, that the Belgium international is his first choice — and Mignolet demonstrated exactly why on Sunday.
Mignolet’s decision-making has often been questioned, but he has always been capable of making outstanding saves, and so it proved in this draw.
He rescued Liverpool twice in the first half with a brilliant reflex save from Ibrahimovic’s fierce free-kick and a decisive advance from goal to make a one-handed block from Mkhitaryan.
Klopp has had to make big decisions with his goalkeepers this season —- and this one was fully justified by Mignolet.